The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) granted a bank employee’s EC disability benefit claim due to her work-related Cervical Dystonia, Cervical Torticollis or chronic stiff neck.
The bank employee has been working at the Landbank of the Philippines, Candelaria, Quezon Branch since 1999. In 2005, she experienced progressive pain and stiffness of neck muscles. Consequently, she was diagnosed to be suffering from cervical dystonia. In August 2019, the pain became intolerable, which made her to file sick leave in 2019, 2020 till June 2021.
On June 16, 2021, the bank employee filed her EC disability benefits before the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Lucena Branch, but it was denied on the ground that there was no substantial evidence to prove causal relationship between her illness and the nature of her work or her working condition.
She filed an appeal at ECC stating that her medical condition was due to stressful nature of her work and long hours of work.
Upon review, the ECC ruled in favor of the bank employee.
Under the “Increased Risk” theory, an illness is compensable under the EC Program when the employee can show reasonable proof that his illness was caused by the nature of his work or working conditions.
According to the ECC, the workload of the appelant since 2005 was not modified to ease her condition. She had to endure long hours of sitting in computer, encoding, filing, cash counting, and even loading of ATM machines. Also, there have been instances when she would go to work at 8:00AM and extend until 1:00AM the following day, or would go to work even on Saturdays. The appellant’s job made her susceptible to physical stress and there were no mitigating measures done by her employer considering her condition. Thus, there is reasonable evidence to conclude that appellant’s job contributed to the development of her illness.
The ECC found merit in the case and awarded disability benefits to the appellant under the EC Program.
“Despite the benefits granted under the EC Program, employers are encouraged to adopt safety measures and maintain a safe and healthy environment for their employees,” ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis said. “We, at the ECC, strongly believe that safety and health should always be our utmost priority.”
The ECC, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), is tasked to review EC claims denied by the SSS and GSIS, on appeal.
D. Dupagan – REU1